DEVILS at PANTHERS
(Best-of-seven series tied, 2-2)
TV: NHLN-US, TSN2, RDSI, MSG PLUS (HD)
Big Story: Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur
continues to defy the odds. The 39-year-old Brodeur, who was pulled 2:18 into the second period of a Game 3 loss on Tuesday, made 26 saves on Thursday to help lead the Devils to a 4-0 victory and enable them to even the best-of-seven series heading back to Florida. The shutout was the 24th of Brodeur's illustrious playoff career, which established a new standard. Brodeur and Patrick Roy had shared the mark with 23 playoff shutouts before Thursday's triumph. Zach Parise
, Steve Bernier
, Travis Zajac
and Ilya Kovalchuk
scored in the victory.
Devils: Coach Pete DeBoer has to be ecstatic over the way his team responded in Game 4 after Tuesday's disastrous meltdown. The Devils received contributions from everyone, including specialty teams. The club finished 2-for-4 on the power-play while denying the Panthers on six power-play opportunities. Florida entered the game 6-for-10 with the man advantage.
"Special teams have been the difference in most of the games in the series, so both coaches are spending a lot of time on those areas in film work and I knew our penalty-killing would bounce back and it did," DeBoer said.
Panthers: Florida has trailed 3-0 in three of the four games of the series. In Game 3, the Panthers rallied back and scored a 4-3 victory. In Game 4, they had no answer for Brodeur and the Devils. On top of that, the team was limited to just five defensemen after Keaton Ellerby
exited the contest with a lower-body injury midway through the second period. Jason Garrison
was a surprise late scratch for Florida. Scott Clemmensen
, who was making his first career playoff start, allowed four goals on 27 shots.
"We had lots of chances out there," coach Kevin Dineen said. "In all honesty we weren't very accurate. I think we wanted to create off rebounds instead of trying to score off the shot. That's not a good recipe for us against a goalie like [Brodeur]."
Who's Hot: Zajac had a goal and one assist in Game 4 and now has two goals and two assists in four playoff games for the Devils.
Injury Report: For the Panthers, Ellerby (lower body) as well as forwards Matt Bradley
(concussion) and Jack Skille
(shoulder) are out. Garrison (lower body) is day-to-day, with Dineen saying Friday he was "cautiously optimistic" he would be able to play. … Defenseman Henrik Tallinder
(blood clot) and center Jacob Josefson
(wrist) are out for the Devils.
Stat Pack: Brodeur's 24th career playoff shutout was his first since April 23, 2009, against the Hurricanes, and only his fourth since his Game 7 goose egg against the Anaheim Ducks in the 2003 Final. On top of that, Brodeur also notched his second assist of the series on Thursday and now has 10 career playoff helpers. … The Panthers on Thursday were shut out for the fourth time in 35 playoff games. The team's 4-0 setback in Game 4 against the Devils was the franchise's worst postseason shutout -- it had lost 3-0 two other times.
Puck Drop: DeBoer was asked if he expects even greater intensity as the series now shifts to Florida on Saturday.
"I would assume more of the same with what we've seen already," DeBoer said. "It's coming down to the end here, the rubber hits the road and it's two out of three. The emotions are high and you have two hard-working teams. I expect more of the same in Florida."